Julia Walton at Media Contacts has chatted with Jo Lyford, Freelance Medical Writer
What attracted you to this career in the first place?
My job manages to unite my two passions: medicine and writing. After finishing my degree in Medical Science & Pharmacology, I got a job in biomedical publishing, followed by a move to a med comms agency. After a short time in-house I went freelance – and that was ~20 years ago. I feel very fortunate that I can make a living doing something that I enjoy so much.
What’s your favourite part of your job?
I love delivering a finished project – whether it’s a new detail aid, a slide kit, or reprint carrier – by the agreed deadline, feeling confident that I have met the brief and hopefully surpassed the client’s expectations in terms of quality and accuracy. When I receive feedback from the client confirming that – it’s ever better!
What is the most challenging experience you have faced?
The most challenging aspect of my work is finding creative ways of delivering the client’s key messages without compromising accuracy and while always ensuring compliance with local medico-legal regulations. Other challenges include: (i) working on several different products at the same time, each with their own specific requirements in terms of messaging, “tone and feel”, branding, referencing etc; (ii) dealing with clients who change their minds often or are unclear about what they want; and (iii) reconciling several sets of comments on a material, some of which may be contradictory or incorrect.
What’s the funniest memory and/or highlight of your career so far?
Earlier this year I spent several days filming inside a large pharmaceutical manufacturing plant, making a video to showcase the high quality of the product (an antibiotic). Seeing how a medicine is produced – from the raw materials to the finished tablets before being packaged and sent off for worldwide distribution – was absolutely fascinating.
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
My daughter, as she looks like a miniature version of me.
What’s a typical day look like for you?
I have school-age children so I start early and finish early in order to collect them from school. I work from an office in my house. I start at 7am by checking my emails and prioritising my workload for the day. I am typically working on several materials at any one time, and they may all be at different stages – some will be new briefs, some will be in layout, and some may have come back from the client with comments. Most of my work has to be turned around quickly so I have to be efficient without sacrificing accuracy.
What would your key tasks in a typical day be?
Writing and revising copy for a multitude of materials, such as: detail aids; leavepieces; reprint carriers; videos; interactive screens; marketing emails; web pages or entire websites; web banners; brochures; conference booth panels. I may also have calls with the client and be involved in discussing strategies for future projects.
Thanks, Jo. Have a great #MedComms Day!